As this Parisian-inspired cafe nears its final days, former Seattleites from as far away as New Mexico have booked flights to return for one last meal at Café Presse before serving the last of its famous roast chicken and say goodbye on February 13.
The cafe bar that has become a haunt of Francophiles, football fans and chefs is having one of the biggest restaurant closures on Capitol Hill in years, and the news is getting worse as the owners of Café Presse Jim Drohman and Joanne Herron also plan to sell their bistro marquee Le Pichet at Pike Place Market within the next two years before heading out into the sunset.
In retirement, Herron, 66, plans to tend to his garden in West Seattle and work on writing projects, while chef Drohman, 59, and his wife Sheila McDonnal will move to Orthez, France .
“Two years from today, I hope I’ll be sitting on my porch in the southwest of France and not thinking about work,” Drohman said. “All my life I’ve been a chronic planner.”
Their departures leave a big void in the French gastronomic scene, especially since last year the famous French chef Thierry Rautureau also closed his two bistros in Seattle, Luc and Loulay.
Café Presse has been sold to chef Grayson Corrales who will open a Spanish tapas bar in May. Le Pichet’s lease will expire at the end of this year, but owners can enter into an annual one-year lease until this bistro is sold, Drohman said.
Le Pichet opened in 2000 and Café Presse in 2007. Le Pichet’s rustic menu resonated not only with Seattle locals, but also with the late RW Apple Jr., the legendary New York Times scribe and foodie whose Le Pichet’s praise has made it a must-stop for Francophiles and tourists, as well as many other New York Times food writers.
No one, however, has given Le Pichet and Café Presse more cachet than the late Anthony Bourdain who once sat in Le Pichet’s bar during a Saturday brunch and reveled in the tail terrine beef in red wine with celeriac remoulade, calling it “really old school, old school hockey,” Drohman recalled.
In 2009, Café Presse caused a stir after Bourdain, then Food Network star Mario Batali, ate on the terrace and closed the place at 3am.
Over the years, Bourdain has often shouted at Pitcher or Cafe Presse when visiting Seattle.
Café Presse offered a brasserie-inspired menu – roast chicken, French onion soup, and croque madame and fries – which was considered accessible and affordable.
The café-bar was also a meeting place for football, the perfect place when France won the World Cup in 2018 when raucous fans jumped up and down in unison, raining down pots and pans. pans on the kitchen shelves on the floor.
“I’m going to miss people,” said Drohman, who fielded calls from customers from as far away as New Mexico and Vancouver, B.C., trying to book one last meal. “It’s been a great adventure… Catering is hard work, but cooks do it because we love it, not because we think we’re going to be rich and famous. I will be sad to see him go.
Other closures to note
Pettirosso Cafe will call him quitting Feb. 7 after 27 years on Capitol Hill, citing labor shortages, rising rents and other COVID-19 challenges.
Aki Kushiyaki: The posh Madison Valley meat and skewer grill that debuted last spring didn’t make it into the new calendar year due to a labor shortage, management said. One of the owners, Sonny Ho, said they had a Japanese chef lined up but couldn’t get his visa approved during the pandemic to bring him to the United States. With such a tight labor pool, the restaurant couldn’t find a qualified chef with the butchery experience and skills to master the demanding art of Japanese grilling, he said. . Management tried to train cooks, but none met “our high standards,” Ho said, and the owners closed rather than continue to juggle staff every night. The three owners will continue to operate their famous Arashi Ramen restaurants in Ballard and Tukwila.
LIVELY: The Fremont wine bar closed in part because its space needed to be fitted out, according to to his farewell note posted online. “We have so loved the community that has grown here over the past 8 ½ years. So many kind neighbors, so many people who have traveled here from across town or across country. So many babies born! So many children who grew up before our eyes, so many dear employees who made this place vibrate. So many English muffins!“Vif gift cards will be in the spotlight at Petite Soif wine bar in Beacon Hill until the end of February.
Rabbit burrow, lava parlor and At Mr. Darcy’s: Belltown’s three bars have all said goodbye in recent weeks to make way for pending development on the block. Jessica Gifford, owner of the three bars, hopes to open another bar in Belltown or relocate Rabbit Hole and Lava Lounge in the future.
Aviv Shawarma Bar: This South Lake Union lunch counter never got the foot traffic it needed to survive when Amazon workers started working remotely during the pandemic. The owners posted on Instagram that “after two years of fighting for this place with every cell in our body, we have closed our doors for good. Covid sucks. … We’ve built something amazing that we still believe in and have spent the past few weeks dismantling it piece by piece. We are sad, but we would be lost if we did not remember that there is good in this world, Mr Frodo, and it is worth fighting for. Aviv’s original location on Capitol Hill remains open.
Goofy’s Bar, a hangout for Green Bay Packer fans, is fenced off, with a nearby sign advertising a pending seven-story apartment complex coming to the block. Goofy’s was also the watering hole for the Crown Hill crowd who didn’t want to venture south to do the Ballard bar hopping. The good news: two Crown Hill newcomers are vying to become their piece cheers – Fuel Sports Grill and the communal dining room with Crucible Brewing and Soundbite Cider.
Vios Cafeafter 17 years on Capitol Hill, has closed, but the owner will keep his other Capitol Hill Greek restaurant, Omega Ouzeri, open.
Kerloo cellarsone of the 10 tasting rooms housed at Sodo’s Urban Works, will leave this warehouse after February 12. Talented winemaker Ryan Crane, who set up his tasting room here seven years ago, quoted in his note to his wine subscribers the lack of federal and state assistance to help small businesses like his survive during this difficult time. The good news is that you can get his star rose at Kerloo’s other tasting room in Woodinville.
Loxsmith bagels, one of Seattle’s best bagels, according to cookbook author J. Kenji López-Alt, has closed its East Broadway location inside Nacho Borracho. Bagel maker Matthew Segal shared space with a taqueria inside this bar, and he said there wasn’t enough room to run both operations. Segal signed a lease to open another bagel counter near the Beacon Hill light rail station. It is scheduled to open in the spring.
As well, Coffee Bagel Eltana over a wood firethe Montreal-style bagel shop, closed its Uptown Seattle Armory counter, but its two other branches on Capitol Hill and Wallingford/Fremont remain.
Mia’s Off Broadwaya teriyaki haunt for many Capitol Hill students, called it after 15 years, indicating they were ready to “move on to the next chapter of our lives”.
Poke Bar left the Packard Building apartments on Capitol Hill.
The Lodge Sports Grid in Greenwood posted on his front door it’s done. Its corner lot along Greenwood’s main thoroughfare is prime real estate and should attract plenty of suitors.
Gather the kitchen & bar in Ballard also closed after trying to switch to a fast-casual model during the pandemic.
GameWorks: One of many struggling downtown businesses that have been unable to hang on, GameWorks posted on Facebook: “Over the past 20 months we have seen our business disrupted and the slow recovery continue economic has left us with no choice but to close… Thank you for all the love over the past few decades. We hope you will remember us fondly and wish you all the best. July 1996-December 2021.”
In Kirkland, Wilde Rover Irish Public House closed in part due to financial hardship caused by the pandemic, and owner Ben Pittman replied in an email that he was “focused on returning the space to the owners of the building”.
The ultimate font is a food truck that closed after eight years of serving thousands of office workers in various buildings across the Sound.
Northern dumpling house closed its brick-and-mortar store in Totem Square in Kirkland and now sells frozen dumplings online at northdumplingfrozen.com. The owners make deliveries in the Eastside, Seattle and the North End.
Two national channels have left Bellevue: PF Chang’s downtown has not renewed its lease, according to a company spokesperson, while the Sugar factory left The Bravern resort.